An evaluation of the contribution of human-wildlife conflcts to poverty in Taveta division, Taita-Taveta District, Kenya
Kamande, Lucy Mumbi
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The people of Taveta Division in Taita-Taveta District like many communities living near national parks boundaries have continued to suffer losses resulting from wildlife menace, but without adequate compensation. The poverty assessment surveys done in the country so far have not also addressed the impacts of wildlife on people adequately. The aim of this study therefore, was to explore the link, which could exist, between human-wildlife conflicts and poverty in Taveta Division. A closed-ended questionnaire was administered to respondents in 270 households chosen at random to gather information on the nature and extent of human-wildlife conflicts, the perception of the same by the community and assessment of its contribution to poverty in the study area. In addition, relevant historical data such as human population and wildlife data was used. From the results, the people of Taveta Division incurred about Ksh.18 million during the survey period with respect to predation of their livestock, crop destruction, human injuries and even death among others. The results also indicated an average consumption rate of 0.71 of a dollar per individual per day. The losses incurred increased with increase in number of conflict cases as (R=0.7105, rz = 0.5084). Human population growth and wildlife increase were found to be inversely related (r = -0.94281 and R2= 0.8889). The wildlife numbers decreased with increase in human population, while a downward trend in wildlife numbers between 1970s and 1990s indicated that, increase in human-wild conflicts was not triggered by increase in wildlife. However, the data indicated an upward trend in human population in the area from 1948 to 1999 which was attributed to increase in conflicts. Rainfall unreliability was cited by majority (73.12%) of the respondents as a major limiting factor in crop growing in rain-fed subsistence agriculture, followed by crop destruction by wildlife, which accounted for 56.38% of the respondents. Further low education contributed to lack of alternative other than subsistence farming. All the above factors have a major effect on their livelihood. Based on results, three factors emerge as causing poverty in the area: Low education level that has led to unemployment which has subsequently led to lack of alternative source of income other than subsistence farming, rainfall unreliability within the rain-fed agricultural areas and human-wildlife conflicts. This has been a major contributor to their poverty. Change of the current landuse to one which is compatible with wildlife and also conducive to arid and semi-arid regions, completion of the wildlife policy to facilitate both non-consumptive as well as consumptive benefits to local communities, and training of the local community members to enable them take up jobs which requires skilled personnel within tourism industry were some of the recommendations.